Netflix Subscriptions Soar During Coronavirus Lockdown, Underlining its Dominance in The Streaming Wars

Netflix logo in a big pile of cash

Netflix gained 15.77 million paid subscribers in the first quarter of 2020. The streaming service now has over 182 million paid subscribers. It generated $5.768 billion in revenue in Q1 this year, according to its latest earnings report. That is a year-on-year increase of over 27 percent.

Netflix logo in a big pile of cash

Netflix Numbers Dwarf its Rivals

The staggering increase in paid subscribers was, of course, down to ever more people wanting to stream content during the coronavirus lockdowns around the world. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said:

At Netflix, we’re acutely aware that we are fortunate to have a service that is even more meaningful to people confined at home, and which we can operate remotely with minimal disruption in the short to medium term. Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth.

However, he added that the company “expect viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, which we hope is soon.” The company forecast a more modest 7.5 million increase in paid subscribers for Q2 2020.

[HBO Max Launching May 27th]

Compare and Contrast

By comparison, Amazon’s Q4 2019 figures revealed that it had 150 million Prime subscribers. All these people have access to its Prime Video streaming service, although we do not know how many people actually use it.  It will be interesting to see what those numbers look like when it reports on March 30th. In February, analyst Toni Sacconaghi outlined that Apple TV+ only had around 10 million subscribers. And that’s when basically nobody is paying (directly) for it. The new iPhone SE may help increase a bit but given reduced demand for the device, but it is hard to imagine it prompting a hugely significant upturn.

We have known for a long time that Netflix was winning the streaming wars. These latest figures underline just how far ahead it is.

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